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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Shifting – work in progress

The experiments are about transporting audiences to different perceptual states.
Constantly shifting from one conceptual environment to another.
The interpretation of ambiguous stimuli from different sensory inputs
generates a co-creation process that heavily relies on the observer’s imagination.

Shifting – (Hovering)

3D Binaural audio content. (headphones highly recommended)

Hovering is another experiment of the project Shifting.
The experiments are about transporting audiences to different perceptual states.

Originally designed for quadraphonic surround sound, this version is binaural remix, so headphones are needed.
A single audio file recorded at Clissold Park (East London) was sampled originating all the sounds on the video using granular synthesis .

Shifting (High-Pass)

An experiment on focal and peripheral attention

Researcher: Bernardo Varela

In order to survive, the human cognitive system filters noises (sounds, images and thoughts), so we can focus attention on a specific task.

Perception shapes reality, shifting attention in real time from foreground to background depending on the current stimulus. We do this all the time, intuitively, without noticing.

This experiment plays with the idea of how we can perceive the same thing differently depending on our current and ever changing priorities and interests.

The sounds recorded for this experiment reveals that depending on where our attention is focusing at a given moment, cars on a Highway ( busy sounds) can sound like waves breaking on the beach (calming sounds) or leaves been smashed by a bicycle can sound like boiling water.

Sound recordings of cars on a Highway. in East London near UCL (Here East).

After editing and filtering the sounds, the similarity between the sounds of cars and ocean became more explicit.

Also sound recordings of bicycle running over dry leaves.
After editing and filtering the sounds became similar to boiling water.

During the editing, a High-Pass filter was used to cancel the low frequencies of sounds. By modulating the low frequencies of the recorded sounds of cars on a Highway, the sonic similarities between a busy road and waves breaking on a beach were enhanced.

The edited audio was analysed in Touchdesigner to generate the procedural animation of the rectangles (road stripes and waves particles) reacting in real time with the different sound frequencies. Also keyframe animation in TD to add camera movement and to enhance particles flow and adding more drama and narrative to key moments.

Touchdesigner CHOPto operator converts audio analyses data into image. (a row of pixels with color values animated at 60 frames per seconds. The sound frequencies are spread horizontally from left to right, low to high). The TOP feedback combined with other effects creates a representation of the audio spectrum rendered as a moving image in real time.


Researcher: Bernardo Varela

Supervisors: Paul Bavister, Felix Faire, Luca Dellatorre

Thanks (TD tutorials): Simon Alexander-Adams, Hristo Velev

Software: Ableton Live, Adobe Audition, Touchdesigner

Hardware: Binaural Microphones (Sennheiser Ambeo smart headset), Iphone, Surface Book 2

Projected developed on the M.Arch Design for Performance & Interaction

Master programme of the Bartlett School, University College London





  1. Beautiful work, We’ve posted it first this morning 🙂

  2. Parker Heyl

    I think this blog post turned out nicely and I like that you’ve done a binaural mix. I’m wondering about future iterations and if the sound can be more various, most of these sounds are a variation of white noise. I know you’ve done some work with the voices of children playing and excited to see how this develops.

  3. Jessica In

    This is a really nicely represented project, very beautiful to view and experience. Interested to see where you will take this, i.e. do you intend for it to be experienced live with the quadraphonic sound, or does the mobile setup offer different opportunities (i.e. more people able to experience it). Are you interested in seeing how you might quantify the states that your work pushes the viewer/listener into? or will you just focus on enjoyment of the experience?

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